Brandan Wright believed he could help the Warriors. He really did. And maybe he could have.
There was the game in 2009 when he scored 25 points, the game in '08 when he grabbed 13 rebounds. He's 23 years old and 82 inches of action.
Yet game after game this season Wright sat on the bench, watching and waiting, squatting on skills the Warriors could use, hoping to hear his name.
Five games out of every seven, he heard it. The call would come from coach Keith Smart, and Wright would bolt off the bench and into the game. Sometimes he was effective, other times not.
Two games out of every seven, however, Wright never set foot on the floor. His activity was restricted to the neck and eyes, using them to follow the action. Sixteen times this season, Smart decided Wright was not needed.
And now he's gone, another young big man dismissed by a team eternally searching for big men who can grow with the franchise.
He's off to New Jersey, along with fellow 6-10 big man Dan Gadzuric, sent east for 6-10 forward Troy Murphy, whose expiring contract -- signed when he was a Warrior -- makes him immediately expendable.
Gadzuric never was part of the Warriors' long-term plan. He arrived as part of the package, along with guard Charlie Bell, received last summer for Corey Maggette, who was dealt so the Warriors could escape the gigantic long-term contract he signed here.
Wright was another matter. Acquired in a 2007 draft-day trade involving shooting guard Jason Richardson, the North Carolina product was visualized as an integral part of The Future.
In the years since, Wright has frustrated fans, himself and the Warriors. He has sustained a stunning succession of injuries, resulting in missing nearly three games for each one he has played. In four seasons as a Warrior, he has played 1,258 minutes -- 63 more than reserve wing Reggie Williams has played this season.
Leaving as he does, as young as he is, with just enough talent to tantalize, Wright becomes the latest chapter in the absurdly thick book of Warriors despair.
His come-and-go tale here is added to so many others over the past 20 years, including -- take a deep breath -- Anthony Randolph, Richard Hendrix, Patrick O'Bryant, the aforementioned Troy Murphy, Antawn Jamison, Marc Jackson, Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle, Todd Fuller, Joe Smith, Tom Gugliotta, Carlos Rogers, Clifford Rozier, Chris Gatling and Tyrone Hill.
Did we forget anyone? Oh, yes, Chris Webber, the 1993 draft-day acquisition that haunted the franchise for a decade.
For the purposes of symmetry and as proof that some things haven't changed, we also feel compelled to include Billy Owens.
Owens was acquired from Sacramento in 1991 in exchange for shooting guard Mitch Richmond, a trade Don Nelson claimed might have been his most regrettable. Richmond was productive and immensely popular, but Nelson wanted to get younger and bigger. Owens was four years younger and 4 inches taller.
It made sense, theoretically, but it blew up on the Warriors. Richmond became an All-Star. Owens did not.
Like Richmond, Richardson was productive and popular. But architect Chris Mullin wanted to add size, while management wanted to trim the budget. Wright was nearly seven years younger, bound to the rookie pay scale and a good 4 inches taller than J-Rich.
The deal was competitively dubious but financially rational -- and just as Warriors fans of the '90s lamented losing Richmond for Owens, Warriors fans of the past few years detested losing Richardson for Wright.
With the trade deadline looming, Wright clearly wanted out. He didn't whine, couldn't bring himself to say he wanted to restart his career elsewhere.
Speaking with Wright late Tuesday night, after the loss to the Celtics, his desire to leave was evident in his uneasy grin, in the way he looked me in the eye and chuckled, searching for the right words while dancing around the subject of his future. His tongue didn't beg, but his eyes pleaded for a new start.
"I'm a basketball player," he said. "I just want a chance to play basketball."
Asked if he would he prefer to see things work out with the Warriors, or take his chances with another organization, Wright said he had no preference.
"That's not up to me," he said. "I just want to play."
Health permitting, he'll get his chance with the Nets. There are reasons they and other teams pursued him. He's long, athletic and a 55 percent shooter.
Meanwhile, Warriors fans can turn the page. Turn it to 6-10 rookie Ekpe Udoh. Wish the kid luck, for the odds are not in his favor.
Contact Monte Poole at email@example.com.
Warriors send Wright, Gadzuric to Nets for Murphy. Page 3